Activities in Tonga You Can’t Miss
Tonga is a little-known nation but the fact is that it has 170 islands, five island groups and hundreds of attractions and activities. So where do you begin to whittle down the things that you should do in Tonga? Well, a good place to start is with this list of must-dos in Tonga listing The Kindom’s stand-out experiences. From here, you will be linked to more must-dos in the island group you’re visiting, as well as more information on the top experiences in Tonga.
If you were interested in just about everything there is to do in Tonga, then don’t miss our 101 Best Things to Do in Tonga: The Ultimate List.
1. Swim with Whales
If you only know one thing about Tonga, then it’s probably that you can swim with whales there. That’s right, between June and October each year, humpback whales migrate to Tonga’s tropical waters to mate and raise their young. During this time, visitors to Tonga get the unique opportunity to snorkel with these gentle giants in their natural environment through whale swimming tours which follow tight regulations. See The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga for more information.
2. Check Out Ha’amonga ‘a Maui
Tonga has an interesting history of kings and colonisation across the South Pacific. While there are ancient and not-so-ancient royal tombs, historic palaces and mound fortresses to check out around the islands, the most iconic historical sight is Ha’amonga ‘a Maui. This megalithic trilithon can be found in the small village of Niutoua in Tongatapu. Learn more about this historic site and more in the 10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga.
3. Browse a Tongan Market
We could say the Tongan markets are a must-do to see the interesting array of produce for sale or to even mingle with the locals, but the main reason is undoubtedly for the handicrafts. Saying Tongans are skilled craftspeople doesn’t do them justice, which you’ll understand as you start to wander the amazing handicraft markets of Talamahu Market in Nuku’alofa or the smaller ‘Utakalongalu Market in Neiafu. The array of unique handmade bags, clothes, sculptures and jewellery is inspiring and provide unique gift ideas for your loved ones back home. Check out other ways to experience the local culture in the 10 Best Ways to Experience the Tongan Culture.
4. Scuba Dive Among Caves and Corals
Yes, most of Tonga is technically part of the southern Pacific Ocean, which holds an amazing array of marine species to admire, from turtles to all sorts of colourful nudibranch. The scuba diving here is uncrowded and incredible, where you’ll have the chance to see lively coral cities awash in reef fish to interesting underwater caves, tunnels and arches. Check out The Guide to Scuba Diving in Tonga to “dive” deeper into the subject.
5. Do an Island-Hopping and Snorkelling Tour
Tonga is made up of 170 islands but only 36 are inhabited! While you’re not expected to visit them all, it would be a shame to come all the way to The Kingdom and only stay on one island. To experience the beauty of some of Tonga’s pristine uninhabited islands combined with snorkelling above shallow coral reefs, hop on one of the island-hopping and snorkelling boat tours, which are available in abundance in Tongatapu, Vava’u and Ha’apai. Check out some of your options in the 10 Best Boat Trips in Tonga.
6. Do Some Hiking in ‘Eua
‘Eua is a land of its own in Tonga, the nation’s oldest island and a natural paradise for tropical forest and rugged coastal formations. The best way to explore the island is simply by hiking, where there is a range of guided and self-guided experiences available to stunning island lookouts, remote beaches, limestone caves, natural archways, rock gardens and more. Check out the 5 Best Hikes in ‘Eua, as well as the other 10 Must-Dos in ‘Eua.
7. Fish for South Pacific Whoppers!
Tonga has one of the world’s renowned blue marlin fisheries, as well as an array of other South Pacific pelagic species that are on the hit list of many keen anglers. But you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy fishing in Tonga, as there are many charters across the islands kitted up with high-quality gear to help you experience the adrenaline rush of reeling in huge fighting fish like yellowfin tuna, marlin, giant trevally, mahimahi, wahoo and more. Learn more about fishing in The Kingdom in The Complete Guide to Fishing in Tonga.
8. Go to a Tongan Feast
They’ll make sure that you’re well-fed in Tonga, especially if you go to a Tongan feast put on by the resorts, cultural tours and village tours. Cultural shows with traditional song and dance performances in Tongatapu are usually followed by a huge buffet with traditional Tongan dishes and a spitroast pig. In Ha’apai, the Ha’ano Culture Tour allows you to experience a lunch feast in a village, while Sundays in Vava’u typically mean umu (earth oven) feasts at various accommodations and the ‘Ene’io Botanical Gardens. Learn more in the 5 Best Cultural Shows in Tonga TTD361. Plus, learn more about the must-dos in Ha’apai here.
9. Check Out the Mapu ‘a Vaea Blowholes
Tonga is home to tens of weird and wonderful natural attractions, including the Mapu ‘a Vaea Blowholes in Tongatapu. See more than 5km (3 miles) of coastline shoot the ocean into the sky as the waves roll into the southern coast of Tongatapu to make what looks like nature’s own dramatic water feature! Check out more interesting natural sights like caves, landbridges and flying foxes in the 10 Best Natural Attractions in Tonga. Plus, check out more activities you can’t miss in the area in the 10 Must-Dos in Tongatapu.
10. Sail in the South Pacific’s Best Sailing Grounds
With its labyrinth of inlets, bays and tightly compacted islands, Vava’u is often described as the best sailing grounds in the South Pacific. While most of us don’t have a yacht to experience that for ourselves, there are plenty of day sails and multi-day sailing charters to experience this phenomenon for yourself. It’s the most luxurious of ways to experience life on the water in Tonga, visiting various islands and villages around the archipelago while taking in the beauty of the Pacific Ocean. Check out 5 Best Sailing Charters in Tonga for our top picks and see more must-dos in the area in the 10 Must-Dos in Vava’u.